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  • Mary Vernieu and Venus Kanani Give Faces to the Timeless Characters in ‘The Giver’

    “The Giver,” based on the novel by Lois Lowry, hits theaters Aug. 15, bringing with it memories of required reading in school—but not in a bad way. “We didn’t really know how big the book was until we started working on it. All the young people who came in and read for the part had read the book in school and loved the book,” says Venus Kanani, who cast the film with Mary Vernieu. Director Phillip Noyce puts faces to the well-crafted characters in the dystopian novel, in which pain has been elimiated and only the title character has memories of the past—before he passes them on to 12-year-old Jonas. “The themes of the book and the story are just super universal,” she says. To set the film’s tone, it was important that the performances stood the test of time and, for the roles of Jonas and Fiona, that the performances were accessible.
    Jeff Bridges, who was involved in developing the novel into a film, plays the title role of the Giver, while Meryl Streep plays the Chief Elder, a stern omnipresent disciplinarian. Although they knew they wanted Streep, it took everyone involved to make it happen with her shooting schedule on “Into the Woods.” “When you have

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